One of the most profound conversations my beautiful mum ever had with me, was about the incredible gift my close female friendships would bring to my life. She told me how much impact they would have during the toughest of times, how much strength they would give me and the honesty they would allow – no matter how dark or deep the thoughts, feelings or discussions might be. She told me they would have ups and downs – but if the bond was strong enough – we would always find our way back and those friendships would last a lifetime.
She was so right.
I have been so lucky to have female friendships like this through my life. These relationships have experienced good times, endured hard times and distance too. And new relationships begin all the time. Ones I know will stand the test of time and are so important to my emotional wellbeing. Women who I can be honest with, women who give me strength, confidence and courage and bring so much warmth and energy to my life. And our oath is to do this for each other – that is the mark of true female friendship. I am so very lucky for this.
As well as our close friendships with women – we also live in a time when women’s rights are celebrated and continually fostered. Sure – it’s not perfect yet, but it’s certainly moving in the right direction and as the mother of an 18 year old daughter – I know she feels less ‘constraints’ than the female generations before her.
In light of this – we are surrounded by messages encouraging women to empower other women and supposedly how incredible we are to each other as a sex. We read articles and see social media posts, that would have us believe, the only thing holding us back are comments and actions from (some) men who are not on our side – whether it be in business or in our personal lives.
I’ve certainly experienced being ill treated by men in business and in my personal life – but I’ve also experienced this ‘just as much’ from other women!
We are so quick to blame men for judging how we look, speak, dress or behave. But in my experience, it is unfortunately just as likely to be other women and even more callous.
Social media has made it too easy for some women to preach a mantra they don’t practice in real, life in my opinion.
I have been chatting to a few close girlfriends about this recently and they all agree.
My daughter suffered bullying as a young teenager and it was heartbreaking to watch – she was bullied by other girls, not boys. I wanted to tell her that this phase would leave her life as she grew up, but I am not the kind of mother that would make up a story just to get my child through a tough phase, as children do not forget if they have been lied to. Instead, I was honest with her and told her she will encounter female bullies all through her life, but as we get older, we get better at dealing with it.
My daughter is a lot like me – we’re both super sensitive. Maybe not something people think about either of us when they look at us, or spend time with us – we come across as pretty tough, feisty and strong – and we are those things – but we are also easily hurt.
I am sure there are lots of women like us out there.
The truth is, I’m definitely better at dealing with the bullies, but I am no less hurt by them.
How other women see us often leaves more of a mark on our psyche, than how men see us. Not just our close female friends – but other women in general.
Judgement by other women is unnecessary, wrong, hurtful, cruel and dangerous.
When women lash out at other women, they are doing one thing in my opinion – trying to make another woman feel their pain by inflicting pain. How do I know this is true?
Because only a woman knows how hurtful the judgement of another woman is.
I don’t care how insecure a woman is, or tough a time she is going through – there is absolutely no excuse to take that out on another female to make yourself feel better. No excuse at all.
After my surgery, my confidence was at an all time low. Obviously I was elated (beyond belief) to be alive, that goes without saying, but once that euphoria wore off, the true reality of being a woman who had lost some of her hair and whose head looked frightening, hit me hard. I felt so terribly ugly. Only someone who has been ill or lost their hair without choice, will understand this – and that’s OK. It’s so hard to feel ‘normal’, if every time you look in the mirror, or someone stares a little bit too hard at you, you are reminded you are ‘different’.
My close female friends were nothing short of amazing during this time.. They filled my cup every day to give me more and more strength and confidence and the rest of the cup, I worked on filling myself.
I had a few hideous comments from other women at that time, that I will never forget. Those comments sure made me stronger, but I shed a lot of tears to get there. But, on the whole, once someone realises you have been very sick, they usually tred very carefully with what they say.
Fast forward 4 years and no one can tell I am a brain tumour survivor. Hell – I have biceps to rival Arnie’s and probably look like the smallest heavyweight boxer Barbie on the planet!!! Strong body, strong mind is my mantra. It’s what works for me.
But I am growing increasingly concerned at how easily some women find it to judge me, or to verbally insult me. We are ALL different and despite all the media messages that would have us believe women love this about each other – I think we have just as far to come as women treating women, as we do with men’s treatment of us.
I work in industries dominated by women – fitness and fashion. Giving other women the confidence to be the ‘ best they can be’, is what I do for a living and I love it.
But I’d like to see women truly embrace this and stop judging their female peers for being different.
Let’s stop blaming men for this and look at ourselves first. If we don’t treat each other with respect, why should we expect men to?
Personally -I feel utterly blessed to have been given a second chance in life. This time 5 years ago, I had no idea whether I would even be able to write this post. Because of that, I am going to follow my dreams with more passion than I ever had, I’m going to be myself with a greater sense of pride than ever before and I’m going to surround myself with people who are kind, loving, honest and real.
But I have made a pact with myself. I’m not just going to ‘take’ the judgement and insults from other women anymore. If I do that – then those women will never learn and continue to hurt others and we will get no further. And if those judgements or insults come from female ‘friends’ in your life – then reconsider how close a friend they really are.
It’s time women stopped judging other women . It’s not ok to say whatever you think if it’s hurtful – that’s not honesty – it’s just mean. You never know someone’s story or why they have chosen to look, behave or live a particular way. If it’s not hurting anyone, then it’s not your right to comment. Embrace their uniqueness and individuality – it is shameful to mock it. Think before you speak.
My close female friendships are more important to me than ever. They are full of love, laughter, tears and magic. Mum was so right – they are an incredible gift.